A couple of takeaways I have after reading the applications are: there are a lot of organizations passionate about similar issues, so look for organizations that have a special something or that are doing just a little extra and for some reason I was more drawn to organizations that were involved with communities in ending deforestation and did not take it upon themselves to just help an area without really getting to know it. A question I would have like to have asked is: how is your organization working to engage the community (s) you are working with? because personally I find it important to make sure an organization is not helping a community in a way that isn't productive and won't have a lasting impact. I really like how two of our top three organizations are particularly involved in their communities by either empowering them to fight for their land or teaching and supporting them in lifting themselves out of poverty. I have learned firstly, that organizations that have more money are able to afford better grant writers therefore their application may sound more concise and just better than other organizations with much less money. I have also learned that for some of the organizations that applied for our grant 10, 000 dollars may not go too far, but as long as it benefits our cause of fighting deforestation and helps the community affected by that deforestation (whether it be actual people or animals) I will view our donation as impactful.
One takeaway from reading the RFPs is that there are a lot of nonprofits and organizations that are playing an important role in making the world a better place. I feel that as time goes on, there are many people who might have a negative outlook on life or feel like the world is crashing down because of issues like climate change, gun laws, discrimination, wage gaps, gender inequalities, or whatever it is. Reading these applications showed that they are many people who are taking action to help the world and that there are many ways to get involved in one sector, deforestation, let alone many other issues.
One question that could have been helpful is asking about their specific values (which would be different from their mission statement), and seeing how that comes across in their work. I feel like the mission of organizations mainly explained the type of work that they did rather than talk about their motivations for doings, or what they want to shine through in their work. I somewhat expected these types of answers, since I felt like it was something that came out of Lick's mission, but things were a bit different.
I've also learned about the multitude of ways that grants can help organizations. Originally, I was a bit narrow-minded in the ways that I expected organizations to help out. I was mostly focused on combating deforestation in terms of growing trees to replenish the ones that were cut down, but there were many organizations that helped out by working with indigenous peoples, educating people, physically buying plots of land, monitoring land, or by combating existing regulations. Also, it was interesting to see the ways wherein organizations were going to spend their money and how they would measure it; it felt like the most interesting part of the application.
For me, it was difficult to see how any organization stood out among the others. I am fairly uneducated in terms of deforestation, so I feel it is not necessarily my place to decide what methods of counteracting deforestation would be most effective. This was a huge problem I faced throughout the entire RFP-reading process. I couldn't tell what was good and what wasn't. I also grappled with the idea of making a choice most committed to our grant mission (which, to me, seemed to be reducing as much deforestation as possible) and making a choice that might have had important implications outside the realm of deforestation (such as supporting farmers or indigenous people) but which might not focus so much on combatting deforestation.
One thing I learned about applying for grants was that being specific is extremely helpful. I was most engaged by grants that proposed specific outcomes and delineated exactly how they would use the grant funds. For example, I forget which one it was, but one grant said they would use $10,000 to plant 10,000 trees. This was particularly enticing to me, because I knew that there would be an outcome that could be measured very simply and effectively.
I learned a lot from reading so many reading the grant applications. First, I learned how to pull important information out of a very long application in order to effectively judge what their organization stands for. I also learned what an application for a grant should look like in terms of format and content and what supplemental materials could be effective in presenting an organization to donors.
In terms of what I would want to ask some of the organizations, I would want to clarify what exactly the money would be used for and not just what project they could go to. Even if the project is a good cause, I would want to make sure that the money goes directly to working against deforestation and not other company expenses.
This process has also taught me that I am vey interested in non-profit work, especially related to the environment or global health. I got an inside look at organizations, their budgets, their leadership and some of the amazing project they are working on.
I realized that organizations must have concise information at the ready to use when asked about their mission, their impact, their shortcomings, etc. Each application was organized, and I appreciated their honesty. I learned how to read a lot of literature at one time, and how to best extract what was at their core. In general, the process we went through in sending out, collecting, reading, and rating the applications was a very concise, cohesive process with few flaws. I think that we could have perhaps further questioned them about the way the organization interacts with the local people of the area (if applicable), and how they ensure they are communicating with them effectively, and not being intrusive. Overall, I think that I have learned that an organization with a budget that isn't too big is more important to support, because our money will go a longer way. In addition, the way they define and differentiate themselves from other organizations is important to recognize.
One of the primary things I took away from reading the RFPs is that there are so many people working to combat deforestation in unique and creative ways. I also learned that it is difficult for me to be overly critical of organizations and people when the work they are doing is being done to better the world. With that, it is very important that I found myself gravitating towards organizations that did more than just deal with deforestation. I think that the organizations that acknowledged the complexities and consequences of deforestation. I think that considering our time limits, we asked all the right questions. I do think that we maybe could have put like a word or sentence limit on stating their mission. I only say this because sometimes it seemed as if the organizations would give really long answers that ended up being repeated throughout the application. Overall I regard this experience as a positive one and it made me see and appreciate the nonprofit business sector in a new light. I was not aware of how many of these organizations had budgets extending over millions of dollars. I also learned that just because an organization may have a large budget, doesn't mean that they are making a larger impact. Where the budget is being allocated ultimately impacts the work of the organization. In conclusion,critiquing the work of those working towards positive change is a difficult task that forces you to carefully examine as many aspects of an organization as possible.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.